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California teacher unions appeal ruling on job protections

California's two largest teacher unions appeal court ruling that strips job protections

California's two largest teacher unions have appealed a court ruling that struck down key job protections for their members.

The action, which had been expected, was announced Wednesday by the California Teachers Assn. and the California Federation of Teachers.

The unions hope to reverse a decision by Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Rolf M. Treu that threw out the state’s tenure process for grade school teachers. It also stripped instructors of rules that made dismissing them more difficult and expensive than firing other state employees.

The ruling also eliminated regulations that made seniority the primary factor in deciding which teachers to lay off.

Treu didn’t ban the job protections in all forms, but absent a successful appeal, his ruling would leave teachers without them pending action in the state Legislature.

The litigation was pursued by Students Matter, a Silicon Valley group founded by tech entrepreneur Dave Welch and also supported by other philanthropists active in education policy.

CTA president Dean E. Vogel challenged the expertise and the motives of those bringing the suit.

“Instead of focusing on the real issues facing our schools, they have chosen to ignore those actual problems and instead to scapegoat teachers,” Vogel said. “Fortunately, the evidence in this case is so strong that we are confident of our case on appeal.”

The other side, however, predicted a different outcome.

"As expected, the teachers unions have chosen to ignore the best interests of students by appealing the Superior Court's common-sense decision,” Students Matter said in a statement. The union leadership “seeks to perpetuate inequality in the classroom and deny students their fundamental right to educational opportunity. We will fight this appeal, and with the facts and law on the side of California’s students, we will prevail."

The ruling also is being appealed by Gov. Jerry Brown and state Supt. of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson. Their reelection opponents, Neel Kashkari and Marshall Tuck, have sided with the plaintiffs.

In the wake of this case, legal challenges to teacher job protections have launched in other states.  

Follow the reporter on Twitter: @howardblume

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